As you drive into the town of Ouray on Main Street, you can often see a gleaming snowcapped peak looming up the valley to the southwest – this is United States Mountain. Today we hiked up there and scored a great ski/snowboard descent!
Skier: Sean Hart.
A view of the line we hiked and skied/snowboarded. There’s a large couloir hidden amongst the top cliffs, which we ascended and descended.
After a series of flights and frantic airport connections on Sunday, I finally made it back home to Ouray from Europe! It was quite a shock to come from full-on spring in Germany and Switzerland to full-on dumping snow in Ouray! It seems that spring is in no hurry around here; the trees are still bare and there looks to be quite a bit of snow in the higher peaks. The photo above was taken on Monday morning after about 8 inches of fresh snow blanketed the town overnight.
The recent snow melted in a few days and today I went on a hike up one of the drier trails in the Amphitheater above town.
It’s always interesting to return to the San Juans after visiting foreign mountains. I see with fresh eyes and appreciate the subtle characteristics that make these mountains unique. For example, while the mountains around Ouray aren’t quite as large, dramatic, and glaciated as the Swiss Alps around Engelberg, these mountains are more complex, with a much broader network of connected valleys and branching terrain.
Anyhow, it feels great to be back, and I look forward to a fun summer – especially when Claudia gets here in July! But first, a couple months of springtime adventures on the snow!
Last week we were in Claudia’s hometown of Dresden, Germany, visiting her family there and seeing the sights of this beautiful city. One day Claudia’s father Gundolf and brother Ferdinand took us to the nearby Elbsandstein Mountains, aka the “Saxonian Switzerland”. I was surprised and impressed by these mountains, which are among the more unique mountains I’ve seen. Large sandstone towers jut out of the surrounding forests and hills like a surreal combination of Utah canyonlands and the Pacific Northwest. Gundolf led us on a fantastic day hike that wound through narrow gorges, foggy forests, high ridges, and also included several climbing routes and via ferrata scrambles along the way. Continue reading “The Sandstone Mountains”→
This last week I went on a ski hut tour in the Bernese Oberland mountains of Switzerland. This is the heart of the Swiss Alps, and during the course of 6 days we skied a variety of routes across the largest glacier system in the Alps. Each night we ate and slept in Swiss alpine huts along the way.
The Matterhorn is the icon of icons – easily the most photographed and recognizable mountain on Earth. While I normally try to resist photographing the most iconic, oft-photographed landscapes, the Matterhorn’s magnetic pull is too much for any photographer to resist, especially me!
With a full moon and hopes for a clearing storm, this last weekend Claudia and I splurged for a one-night vacation to Gornergrat, a hotel perched on a high ridgeline nearly 5,000 feet above the town of Zermatt, with an incredible view of the Matterhorn. Though it was snowing as we rode up on the Gornergratbahn rack train, the storm broke shortly after sunset and I was super stoked to catch some photos of the iconic peak in the moonlight!